How to get rid of the tomato hornworm

Decimating its ranks

This green, 3- to 4-inch caterpillar, with diagonal white marks on its sides and a curved “horn” projecting from its hind end, feeds on the foliage of tomatoes, potatoes, eggplants, and peppers. In the adult stage, it is the large (wingspan up to 6 inches), brownish sphinx moth.

Tomato homworms are easy to handpick: using a twig, knock the caterpillar into a small can of kerosene. Thoroughly spray a large infestation with carbaryl or Bacillus thuringiensis. A second spraying 1 week later should keep them u nde r control.

Don’t destroy a caterpillar that has white, rice-grain-size cocoons on its body. These cocoons (parasites actually) will hatch into a kind of wasp that preys on hornworms.